September 11, 2009

What Are You Forcing?

Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. — Lao Tse

The bolt wouldn’t budge. And it had to come out.

So I spat on my hands, grabbed the wrench, and heave ho! — snapped the bolt head right off.

As anyone who has ever broken a bolt head off will tell you, this is not a happy experience. Especially when the bolt is attached to the engine or someone else’s lawnmower.

Happy, no. Illuminating, yes.

I have only a simple question for you to consider today: What are you forcing in your life today?

Here’s the truth: Forcing something to happen never works. Oh, sure, you might hear of people forcing, say, chrysanthemums to grow out of season, but that’s not what they’re doing at all. The grower merely supplies the proper conditions for growth, then lo and behold the flower grows and blooms.

That isn’t forcing. It’s working with the requirements of the plant, right?

In the case of my bolt, the right thing to have done was to apply a little penetrating lubricant and patiently work the bolt out. I might have had to drill it out and retap the threads anyway, but perhaps not. And I certainly wouldn’t have busted my knuckles in the process.

So. What isn’t budging in your work or life right now? What isn’t happening as quickly as you think it should? Rather than trying to force it to happen, discover the conditions required to induce progress.

Approach the problem in context, supply the appropriate conditions, and watch change happen. All by itself.

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